South Korea Pushing for UNESCO Documentary Listing of Forced Labor of Koreans

kpride, Sept. 14, 2015, 8:16 a.m.

South Korea is pushing for the UNESCO listing of documentary heritage related to Japan’s wartime forced labor of Koreans, diplomatic sources said Sunday. The move is apparently intended to counter the July listing of 23 Japanese industrial facilities, where many Koreans were forced to work under harsh conditions during World War II, as world heritage sites.

The collection of 336,797 documents, photos and other materials on Japan’s forced labor is one of a dozen items being submitted to South Korea’s Cultural Heritage Administration. The administration then plans to pick two items by October and formally apply to list them as UNESCO’s Memory of the World before March 31 next year, according to the sources.

The collection was complied by South Korea’s government panel that has looked into the matter since 2004. “There is a shared understanding in the government on the need to seek the registration of the documentary heritage as the Memory of the World,” a source said. The UNESCO International Advisory Committee will review applications and make recommendations for endorsements by the director general of the Paris-based organization in June or July next year.

If selected, the archives of Japan’s forced labor will be South Korea’s third to be registered as part of the Memory of the World in connection with its modern history. In 2011, materials on the May 18th democratic uprising against military rule in 1980 were listed and those on Saemaul Undong (the new community movement) in the 1970s were chosen in 2013.

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